Within the deep gorge, Miao Yi was seated cross-legged on his stone couch cultivating. Suddenly, he heard the howl of onrushing wind from outside, followed by a loud booming noise. Startled, Miao Yi quickly rushed to the entrance of the cave. Similarly, many heads popped out from the neighboring caves as well.
They found a jade archive firmly embedded in what was originally a giant boulder along the mountainside.
Zhao Fei rushed over and retrieved the jade archive. When he read its contents, his expression instantly twisted in dismay.
"What does it say?" asked Lu Siping as he rushed over to his side.
Zhao Fei didn't reply. He simply handed the jade archive over to him. When Lu Siping read it, his expression immediately darkened as well. This was the same for everyone that came over and read the jade archive.
"Damn it all!" Sikong Wuwei cursed aloud.
Qi Xiuhong and Miao Yi came over as well. From the looks of things, she still appeared to be her usual self. It was difficult to tell that she had a physical relationship with Miao Yi.
Ever since that night, Miao Yi would occasionally invite her to bed, and she never rejected nor resisted. But after putting her clothes back on, everything went back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened between them. Then she would just go on with her daily chores. Miao Yi wanted to get closer to her, but she wanted to keep him at arm's length. This situation made him quite speechless.
"What does it say?" Miao Yi asked. The jade archive was then handed to him. After reading it, his expression contorted as well.
Inscribed on the jade archive was a map of the Western Star Sea. The one they were given from the beginning only had the point of disembarkation for all the Earthly Branches marked, whereas this one highlighted everyone's current positions. The gorge that the Red Scarves Alliance was hiding in was listed within as well.
This was clearly not a prank. Since the other party could find this place and hand this over to them, they obviously knew they had been hiding here.
There was something else written on the jade archive. They were not the only ones to receive the jade archive. All the other forces had received them as well. Furthermore, depending on the situation, the current location of every force would be updated without a set schedule. This would go on until the final one hundred survivors have been decided, meaning no one could dream of hiding this out.
Everyone finally understood why it was always only a hundred people who would survive the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade and return in the end.
"They're forcing us to our deaths!" Miao Yi roared furiously.
"Alliance Master. What should we do now?" Zhao Fei asked.
"We mustn't stay here for long! However, from the looks of things, it will be the same no matter where we go. As such, it is not yet imperative that we leave. We have already become familiar with the lay of this island, so how can we not use this to our advantage!? Not to mention, our one-thousand-strong army is not just for show. Whoever tries to take our lives must make sure that theirs are equally hard to take. We will adapt to the situation as we see fit. This is our home turf!"
Miao Yi cast a sharp gaze to the crowd as he said this. Then, he abruptly turned to Dong Quan and ordered, "Dong Quan. Have the First Division cut down trees and start constructing rafts right now. Once you're finished, hide them between the reefs on the southern end of the island. Make sure they are properly hidden. If we encounter a strong enemy we cannot face, that will be our quickest route of escape. Do not fail me."
"Understood!" Dong Quan cupped his fists and acknowledged the order. Then, he called for his First Division troops and rushed out of the gorge.
"Wang Yuetian. Spread the Second Division out across the island. Have them make a report immediately if they find any enemies approaching."
"Understood!" Wang Yuetian acknowledged the order. Then, he assembled his forces and hurriedly began making preparations.
Everyone's gaze followed Miao Yi's finger as he pointed to the stream in the center of the gorge. Then, his hand followed the river's course to stop on the waterfall at the end of the gorge. "Assemble the troops and follow me upstream past the waterfall, to the lake at the peak of the mountain."
No one knew what he was planning, but they had all seen his capabilities and knew that he wouldn't give orders without a purpose. They immediately acknowledged his orders.
Soon after all the forces were assembled, they followed after Miao Yi and rushed out of the gorge. Following the river's course, they charged up the valley as they headed towards the peak of the island situated thirty miles off.
Their forces rushed through the forest and finally reached the mountaintop. What lay before them was a tranquil scene of quiet serenity. At the peak of the mountain was a giant lake, with the clear blue sky reflected off its surface as though a cerulean jewel was peacefully lying between heaven and earth. By the lakeside, wild flowers blossomed spectacularly.
No one knew how this lake had been formed. Over the years, everyone would often come here. They discovered that no matter rain or shine, the water level of the lake would remain the same all year long. It would not elevate or fall at all.
Across the crystalline surface, various creatures could be seen swimming about.
However, no one was in the mood to admire the beauty of the lake. Miao Yi pointed to various points around the lake and ordered, "Dig up eighteen canals along the perimeter of the lake! If we encounter a small force with our numbers, we need not fear them. But if we are attacked by a larger force, we shall lure them into the canals and open the floodgates to give them a nice long soak. After that, it will only take half the effort to kill them!"
Everyone was overjoyed. This was truly a great plan. Even though it was a little unscrupulous, it was better than losing their lives.
Their hiding place had been revealed, so they worked with haste and immediately executed the Alliance Master's orders. And with such a great plan for their survival, everyone was brimming with vigor. No one dared to slack off since the matter concerned their survival. Nobody was concerned whether or not such a beautiful place would be damaged.
With so many Blue Lotus cultivators working together, the speed of the works was phenomenal. In just half a day, eighteen canals were built alongside the lake on the mountaintop.
After circling the perimeter on Charcoal, Miao Yi ordered for boulders to placed beside the opening of the canals, to stop the flow of water so that they could reuse the strategy again. If they could rely on this lake to fight against strong enemies, they would naturally try to stay here for some time, so they needed to make ample preparations. It wouldn't be too late to leave the island once they were no longer able to make use of this strategy.
All the Blue Lotus cultivators were covered in dirt and mud like common porters. They gathered boulders from within the mountain and strapped them onto the backs of their dragon steeds, making use of the strength of their legs to carry the boulders up to the peak.
Once preparations were complete, they dug out caves around the peak of the mountain to stay in. They had given up on hiding within the gorge and decided to stand guard along the peak in preparation for battle...
Western Constellations Palace — Hei Yun was laughing maniacally as he stood before the astrolabe.
Once the jade archives pin-pointing everyone's locations were distributed, the specks of light across the astrolabe were immediately startled. Clearly, the participants knew they could no longer hide and were busy running for their lives. It would be hard for others to imagine the difficulty and hardships they were experiencing as they lived everyday in worry and fear.
The rate at which the white dots disappeared started increasing again. Even though it wasn't as high as the beginning, for every white dot that disappeared, it meant that another cultivator had died within the Sea of Constellations.
"They've finally started moving again," said Hei Yun, giving vile cackle. His gaze fell upon the red dot that was his son's. He could clearly see that he was hunting those white dots, as all the white dots that approached this red one were quickly disappearing one after another.
"Not all of them." Garbed in black Daoist robes, Hua Yu, Dao Sage Feng Beichen's disciple pointed towards a particular location, "These one thousand are still cooped up in this area."
With the map covering such a large area, it was hard to show the movements of these specks of light within a small radius, even if there were over a thousand of them.
Fairy Hong Chen and Zuo Nanchun had noticed this long ago, since that they had been watching this area the entire time. They just hadn't mentioned anything about it.
Holding his hands behind his back, Yun Guang chuckled, "It seems like they're quite confident because of their large numbers."
Hei Yun's eyes glowed with a green sheen as he said, "This is a nice juicy slab of meat. Whoever manages to reach this area first and take these people down will be able to obtain a thousand golden bangles in one fell swoop. Their ranking will surely skyrocket."
Everyone nodded in agreement. That was indeed the case.
There were 180,000 cultivators. Even if the top one hundred survivors all had an equal score, they would still only need to gather one thousand and eight hundred golden bangles. They wouldn't need too many to guarantee a place in the top one hundred. Thus, whoever managed to obtain the one thousand golden bangles here would definitely soar through the ranks.
To those participants representing the Six Sages, the placement of their rankings represented the Six Sages' honor. So they would definitely have their hearts set on this place.
However, the people here could only yearn for it from where they stood. They couldn't inform their representatives to charge straight for it.
They still had to maintain proper decorum. They couldn't just cheat in the Sea of Constellations because they were sent by the Six Sages. If they really did that, the name of the Six Sages would be tarnished. If that happened, regardless of how powerful the Six Sages were, if they didn't give others even the slightest of chance for survival when they were already at the brink of death, chaos would surely erupt across the land. Then, they could kiss goodbye to organizing any more Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusades in the future.
Tang Jun pointed at a red dot, his tone carrying hostility as he said, "Yun Guang. Your son is running quite fast. Did he receive someone's instruction to intentionally target the forces of my Celestial Nation?"
Even Yun Guang himself was a little puzzled when he saw this, much less Tang Jun. Ever since his son touched ground, he immediately led several men straight for the disembarkation points of the Celestial Nation's forces. He was practically the fastest to reach the area where the first battle in the Western Star Sea had broked out—the disembarkation point of the Celestial Nation's Fifth Earthly Branch.
After that, he was running around the areas where the Celestial Nation's forces had disembarked from. He was clearly going on a full-out hunt against the Celestial Nation's forces. It was hard not to believe that his son had a vendetta against the Celestial Nation's forces. Then, he started running around the entire Western Star Sea like a mad dog, killing all he met.
Then again, on the entire map of the Western Star Sea, no one had been running around more than his son was. It was like he wasn't even tired at all.
Yun Guang coughed dryly and said, "Tang Jun. Don't speak nonsense if you don't have any proof. My son is clearly running around the entire Western Star Sea. How can you say that he is intentionally targeting your Celestial Nation's forces? There's no helping it if they bumped into one another."
Hei Yun interrupted, "The truth is right before you. Even a blind man can see it. Tang Jun, someone is taking you for a fool."
Yun Guang raised an eyebrow and changed the subject. He mocked, "Something that isn't even a human or a ghost, and yet he's still able to have a son. How fascinating. You didn't so happen to have someone else help you, did you? Tang Jun, I hear you're quite familiar with that ghost woman?"
Again with the cheap shots. Hei Yun was instantly enraged. He pointed at Yun Guang and bellowed, "I'll rip your dirty tongue off!"
Yun Guang narrowed his eyes and said, "I'd like to see you try."
Tang Jun scoffed. How could he not see that both of them were trying to provoke him? He kept quiet and watched as the two of them argued…
Regardless of whether it was a blessing or a curse, one's fate could not be escaped.
A group of riders rushed to the peak of the mountain and reported to Miao Yi, "Alliance Master. There is a group of about a hundred approaching us from the sea."
Miao Yi immediately assembled the troops. He left several behind to guard the site, and led the remaining seven hundred down the mountain. They immediately split into three and set up an ambush at the gorge where they had hidden themselves in previously.
Regardless of who the other party were, if they managed to find this place, it meant that they saw the indicator on the jade archive.